Demystifying the Finance & Audit Committee


A Finance and Audit Committee is a committee selected by Chief and Council to support Chief and Council in its decision making with independent advice to manage the band’s financial affairs. In a nutshell the committee works as a first screening process for all major financial positions. A Finance and Audit Committee can provide counsel with some breathing space when they’re being asked to make decisions. Finance and Audit Committee can be forward-looking and understand the implications of the decisions that are being contemplated so that there are precedents set that create problems for Chief and Council in the future. You have that comfort level that it’s really been looked at and analyzed to help you make the best decision. They don’t make the decisions but they will bring forward recommendations whether it’s feasible or not feasible. This way all the work that is coming from the Finance and Audit Committee is looking to the future. The Finance and Audit Committee plays a large part in our success as a corporation and give us an understanding of the amount of money that’s going to be required to be returned to them for them to meet their ongoing programs and services. This Financial and Audit Committee really helps to cut down on that time. They’re not spending time and their council chambers debating whether or not a financial policy is in place or funding is in place. The Audit Committee helps screen those projects so that council has a more efficient decision making process. The role I think is very critical in making sure that the council is aware of all the risks that are involved in the budgeting process. They are a safety measure I believe and actually translating the vision and to operationalize that and to ensure that all steps required for the process are taken. The Nation finance and audit committee has oversight over the assets of the nation, risk management planning. We have an opportunity to challenge the program managers in their budget processing for the year. Managers and directors were used to going directly to counsel to be able to bring a proposal proposal forward there’s a bit of a learning curve to learn that now it needs to go to this committee first for review and recommendations. Individuals who can demonstrate they have financial competency and some literacy around financial management sit on the audit committee it must be independent free of conflict and at least one of the individuals must be a counselor and depending on the size of the committee two members must be counselors who can demonstrate they meet the criteria. The chair of the committee is an appointee of the Chief and Council and their responsibilities ensure that the process the roles responsibilities of the committee are met. Finance and audit committee you know with the terms of reference that’ve been set up and it’s a respectful environment and so that is the place to have those hard conversations those are the place to ensure that you know we really truly are looking at you know what is best for the community so we’re able to bring you know everybody’s expertise to the table whether it’s from the community side with us from staff side or technical experts that we bring in to ensure that we do come to the right conclusion for the community. We are very lucky to have an external member that has First Nations experience kind of brings a new perspective in different ways of doing things that may be the other members being from Chief and Council or even current staff probably didn’t have an understanding. Having somebody that’s independent you bring to the table a feeling that you can say and do whatever you think is the right thing to do from a professional perspective. The keys to success are first of all having competent chair members who have the criteria that makes them eligible to be on the committee. I think it also requires communication in an understanding on the part of all who are involved with the audit risk management about their duties and responsibilities so that people don’t become concerned about their activities. Explaining the benefits and why we have to do this to be accountable to them and I think that’s the key thing is understanding and communication between all parties involved in the process. I think the key term here in this committee is actually it’s a team and then they’re provide that support. There is a separation of business and politics I’ve always felt the more appropriate way to phrase that would be the appropriate definition of business and politics those two are always going to be intricately related in any small community, in any community really and that making sure that we understand what each other’s rules are and clarifying those up front. If the finance and Audit Committee is not receiving information in a timely way it’s very difficult to review and make appropriate recommendations so one of the solutions that we’ve put in place for that is to have quarterly meetings that are posted well in advance so that the right information can come ahead of time and the committee can operate efficiently and pass on appropriate recommendations. At the end of the day having that extra eyes and ears on your finances for the future can only bring good things

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